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How to Bet on the Olympics

The Olympics have remained one of the most important events on the sports calendar since the modern version of the Games were introduced in 1896. Today, many fans find themselves wondering – can you bet on the Olympics?

Every four years, the world’s most talented athletes assemble to battle for supremacy in an array of sporting events, including many that sports fans may not otherwise follow. From basketball to badminton, and soccer to skateboarding, the Olympics offer sporting events that appeal to every type of sport fan.

And while many of the events provide a change of pace from the major leagues that otherwise dominate the limelight, sports bettors can find plenty of familiar options to choose from among the Olympics betting odds.

Here’s a guide of what to expect at your sportsbook the next time the Olympic flame is lit.

Olympics Futures Odds Provide a Sneak Peak

As the start of the Olympic Games approaches, sportsbooks will publish a growing number of futures betting options that cover all aspects of the 16-day event.

Most notable among them is betting on medal count. Odds on which country will win the most gold medals at the Olympics are typically published well in advance of the start of the Games.

Examples of those odds are below, and will be presented in a format that experienced sports bettors are familiar with:

Country to Win Most Gold Medals at the Olympic Summer Games?

Country Odds
USA -3000
China +1100
Great Britain +4500
Japan +6600
Russia +15000
Germany +30000
Korea +35000
France +75000
Italy +75000
Spain +100000

As the start of the Games approaches, futures odds like those illustrated above will be accompanied with Olympics totals wagers focused on the number of gold medals that each of the participating nations will win, as well as head-to-head wagering that enables sport bettors to pit two countries against one another directly.

Total Gold Medals USA

Outcome Odds
OVER 40.5 +105
UNDER 40.5 +115

Most Gold Medals – France vs Italy

Nation Odds
France -130
Italy +100

With totals wagering, sports bettors can bet on whether a specific country will win OVER or UNDER the total number of gold medals indicated on the betting line. In the example above, the total on the number of gold medals to be won by the USA is set at 39.5, with American-style odds attached to both the OVER and UNDER. These odds determine the size of the payout on a winning bet.

The example of a head-to-head bet illustrated above pits France versus Italy, with the winner determined by which country wins more gold medals, and the payout determined by the odds listed on the betting line.

Olympic Sports May Be Unfamiliar, Betting Lines Are Not

Things get a little more interesting when wagering on specific events. For widely popular team sports such as basketball and soccer, sports bettors can expect to see betting lines following the same familiar format as used in major leagues like the NBA and Premier League.

Similar wagering options will be available, including point spreads, moneyline wagering, totals betting, and three-way betting. Futures betting is also available, wagering open on which nation will win the Olympic tournament in each sport, as well as on how group stage standings will wind up, where applicable.

Individual sports are often ideal betting opportunities even for sports bettors not familiar with the sport in question. Wagering is available on each individual event, as well as futures betting on which individual athlete will come away with the gold.

This provides a wide range of options for sports that have many events. For example, Athletics includes 46 individual events, such as the 100 meter dash and the Javelin throw, and two combined events, namely the men’s decathalon and women’s hepathalon.

Futures wagering is available for betting on the winner of each individual event, and each combined event. Sports bettors can also get in on betting on the preliminary rounds, as the athletes compete for a coveted spot in the final of their particular event.

Live Betting and Props

In addition to futures and specials betting, and wagering on the outcome of specific events, live betting can add an additional level of excitement to the Olympic betting experience. Once again, for widely popular team sports like basketball and soccer, the live betting options will be familiar to fans of leagues like the NBA and European domestic leagues, with dynamically updated moneylines and point spreads, totals, and goal scoring props.

Sports bettors can also expect to cash in on an array of prop bets that cover all aspects of the Olympics, both on the field and away from the competition. Expect odds to be published on the performances of individual athletes. Examples including betting on the top goalscorer in soccer, whether any golfer will hit a hole-in-one, or the number of events won by an individual swimmer or track-and-field star.

Props bets also cover activities away from the playing surface, such as whether a medal-winning athlete will make a gesture in protest from atop the podium, whether the Olympic flame gets extinguished prematurely over the course of the Games, and who will be the flag bearers for specific countries at the opening and closing ceremonies.

Preparation Is Key to Success

Many fans and sports bettors will be cheering for their home nation the next time the Olympics roll around. But while national pride stimulates interest in the Games, it is effective preparation that will make the difference for sports bettors looking to cash in with winning bets.

Looking beyond the national flag, and doing preliminary research on Olympic sports and individual athletes before laying that first wager will better position you to enjoy both the Olympic experience, as well as some lucrative payouts at the sportsbooks.

The articles found in our Sports Betting 101 series are an excellent place to learn the basics. If you’re looking for more advanced strategies, check out these strategy articles before jumping into the action.